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Internet Follies: HBO Has New 'Silicon Valley' of Fools
April 6, 2014  | By Eric Gould  | 4 comments
 

Mike Judge swung and missed with his reboot of his Beavis and Butthead in 2011 -- which may have been fortuitous, given the razor sharpness of his new show. He was probably better off leaving the subject of brainless delinquents behind since it seems to have led him to a kind of inverse doppelganger: Internet CEOs and software engineers who are smarter than everyone else, but are just as foul-mouthed and socially arrested as the two teen morons. And like them, the new guys still can’t get anywhere with girls...

Judge’s new series, Silicon Valley, is a cutting send-up of Internet businesses and their captains, and is another winning half-hour comedy for HBO in the mold of Girls and last year’s Getting On. Smart, sharply directed and well stocked with a strong ensemble cast, the eight-episode series premieres Sunday at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Judge spent some time as a Silicon Valley engineer in the '80s, and that influenced his 1999 feature, Office Space, which looked at the existential dread and suffering of cubicle life. He’s much more focused and on target here as he follows a young engineer, Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch), who works at a Google-styled company -- one that's similarly voweled up, called Hooli. With surfboards for tables in the company cafe, the place looks more like a candy colored theme park than it does an office.

Hendricks is a roommate in a house full of Valley engineers trying to hit it big. (Middleditch is center in the top photo, flanked by Kumail Nanjiani, left, Martin Starr, Zach Woods and T.J. Miller). The hook here is that he and the four other young programmers are tenants of Erlich Bachman, an often unwitting alpha male who’s already sold a company and made his millions. Bachman’s turned his house into an incubator, with the stipulation that he owns 10 percent of any company the boys make while living under his roof.
 
The boys, basically, are in a 21st-century form of indentured servitude, but Hendricks, while being your stock awkward genius, has talents beyond the usual html wunderkind, and those quickly lead him to the highest levels of power in the valley and land him in all kinds of squirmy moral dilemmas.

The fun here is with T.J. Miller (left) as Bachman – a blowhard with a Barry Gibb lion’s mane and hipster facial hair. He’s full of mindless start-up aphorisms and is Judge’s standard Silicon Valley entrepreneur – a self-important, ruthless opportunist with an earnest, socially responsible California veneer. That’s one of Judge’s better winning formulas, not only for Bachman as the boys' Silicon Valley jailer, but for the scheming Hooli CEO Gavin Belson (Matt Ross from Big Love) and his rival, billionaire venture capitalist Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch) who may be the biggest Aspergers case on the block.

Judge’s vision of the new American tycoons shows their companies filled with nonsense motivational banners proclaiming such things as “it takes change to make change”. And raging CEOs like Belson pose as nurturing visionaries who abuse everyone around them as a way of keeping control. As one of Belson’s assistants tells Hendricks about one fond memory from a meeting, “Gavin said to me, ‘I’m not humiliating you, I’m elevating you.’”

Much of Silicon Valley seems like a race to see who will become a human being first and do something nice. But for now, it's content to be its own comedy version of Shark Tank. When Hendricks is overwhelmed and has to make a choice, he tells Bachman that he doesn’t know what to do.

Bachman replies, “Neither did Zuckerberg when he was running Facebook at 19. You think he had any real world business experience? No. None. But he was such a tough negotiator that now, all his friends are suing him. I mean, how awesome is that?”
 
 
 
 
 
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4 Comments
 
 
Let's raise awareness about the importance of mental health services.
Apr 9, 2024   |  Reply
 
 
The hook here is that he and the four other young programmers are tenants of Erlich Bachman, an often unwitting alpha male who’s already sold a company and made his millions. Bachman’s turned his house into an incubator, with the stipulation that he owns 10 percent of any company the boys make while living under his roof.
Sep 30, 2023   |  Reply
 
 
I recall a TV show entitled MIDIS VALLEY (on NBC ??? before Remington Steele) ... it lasted 6 weeks
Apr 10, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Goofball Jones
Lets just say I'm kind of in the valley and have seen just about all of this for real. This show hits so close to home it's scary, and totally hilarious.
Apr 10, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
 
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